If you thought any of my previous posts were too personal and it made you feel a bit uneasy, this one will do the same. Please refrain from reading on!
To those who chose to continue: Please share! Whether they are black or white, beautiful or distracting, believers or atheists, there is something everyone can (and hopefully will) take away from this!
I got a call today. I won’t say I was surprised about it.. it all tied in beautifully. I will tell you who called..
A couple of days ago I shared a post titled “Naked and Unashamed“; yesterday my dear friend shared a poem titled “Clean Slate“; and about a month ago I announced that I had a really awesome short-story I wanted to share with you (I was not lying). I eventually decided against it, as something led me to hold it back for a while. Now I know why. No, I’m not about to share it with you today, either. What I will share with you today is something much better.. it is the reality of the ending I made up in that story!
A few of you will know, some won’t.. but that’s totally irrelevant, as I’ll talk about it now anyway: I was raped. I was raped exactly 8 days after my 15th birthday. It was the day I “lost” my virginity. Actually no, I didn’t really loose it, you see.. for I knew exactly where it had gone.. I knew the man who took it.. a member of my church. The culprit was Peter.
Now, I won’t go into the rape today or share any details, as it might be a too graphic or personal for some. Anyway, even if it wasn’t, it’s not what I came to talk about today. I want to talk about the things that happened thereafter.
You see, I’ve always been a rather intelligent person, a thinker, a rationalist, a strong individual, a person “made to weather the storms of life” but that incident broke even me. I say “even” because I did not realize it until much later.
After it happened, he told me not to worry, “We’ll just get married”. I thought it a very wise decision, as “no man would marry a girl who’s not a virgin“. I knew that right from time, it was the reason my parents’ had advised me to “stay away from boys” all my life. I think it important to add that I was visiting a girls-only-private-catholic-school that really did not help matters. I was as innocent as they came; and probably as curious as they came too.
Moving on, I decided to stay with him. It was the safest thing to do. “Don’t worry, we just won’t tell anyone about it. When you are old enough we will get married“. Peter was 26. A couple of weeks later his best friend did the same thing, and I began to wonder. Was it too late for me to back out now?
I thought about telling someone, confiding in someone, and I eventually did.. another guy from church. Turned out he was even worse than the first two!
What happened then was a season of loosing a lot of weight- no, let me be completely honest- I was bulimic. I would eat and throw up.. or not eat for a season at all. I enjoyed the little power and control it gave me: at least I was master over one aspect of my life, my health. And that too was quickly fading. It was my illiterate (and I do not mean this as an insult) grandmother from Nigeria, who had come to spend some time with us, that realized there was something seriously strange about my eating habit and my drastic loss of weight; and alerted my mother. I was sent to see a doctor.
My grades dropped, I no more held the position I had been holding all my life (top of the class), and I eventually had to repeat the entire year at school- I had failed Latin.
The one single thing that probably remained the same was my free and heartfelt childish laughter; although I now laughed with open eyes. I looked at the world differently; it was still beautiful enough for me to choose to remain in it, although I will admit I had bouts of suicidal thoughts.
Then, right in the midst of all the pain, I soon heard Him say, “I will never leave you. I’ll be with you through it all.”
I really do not know how other girls get/got through it. It got much worse after He spoke those words, but through it all I knew I was not alone! I knew there was Someone who felt my pain, my fears, who could relate to my tears. He was my only Confidante and yes, my only true Friend.
I’m leaving out how it finally came out that Peter had raped me, the drama that followed, the court-case that lasted for so many months I feared it would never come to an end. I’m leaving out how my best friend betrayed me in court, and how her false testimony eventually led to his release. I’m leaving out his death threats, my panic-attacks, and my eventual total surrender to God.
It eventually got better, but then again, much worse..
When I moved to London it seemed as though it was all happening all over again. Back to square one? I was still in church and I had a close relationship with God; but to a very large extent I was still hurting. I had been in a handful of relationships with guys I didn’t care for much, had been intimate with guys I couldn’t care for less, and knew nothing but the love of God. I did not know guys had emotions too and could experience feelings of pain, loss, hurt, regret.. and love! You see, by then my perception of “men” had been so perverted, I consoled myself with the thought that “the love of God should be enough for me”, concluding that I was simply not destined to be loved by a man; yet knowing deep down that there was still a deep void.. an unexplainable longing for more.
Then, you guessed it, another promise came, “I am sending someone who was worth all the pain.”
It wasn’t until I was led to speak to a wonderful woman of God, Sister Kenny, that I was truly forced to deal with “my demons” and face the issues I had been running away from all my life. A few weeks of counselling and a few solid prayers, and I knew I was finally free. A freedom I had been looking for for so many years, came- more or less- overnight. If only I had known it was that simple. It wasn’t easy, don’t get me wrong, but the steps to freedom were really simple.
We often think that “being born-again” is all we need to live and lead a new life. But the truth is: it is only the start! It is where the true journey of healing begins. For many years I struggled to just “forget about the past, move on”, after all I was a new creature. But my memories kept haunting me. I knew I could no longer run away.
I’ve met so many girls, personally (more than half my female friends) who have been sexually abused/raped too. You see a girl that has no problem with casual sex, who values intimate kisses over sex, who sees nothing wrong with “cheating” on a boyfriend, who dresses provocatively (although that is not a thing I ever did; it was probably more my innocence that “got me in trouble”) and who does all that with a smile on her face, has deeper issues. You look at her and think “hoe”, when more likely she’s just a little girl with a broken soul.
I’ve had friends who were raped by their fathers and uncles, whose abuse lasted for many years. I’ve had friends who were scared to tell their parents for fear of what they would (or even worse: would not) do; had friends who were told to just shut up and keep quiet about it. I’ve had friends who had no problem pleasuring guys for a “token”. And friends who did all that without protection, believing there was nothing left to protect after-all.
The first time I opened up about my experience to a “good friend” of mine in London, I was told, “And so what? Oh so you think you’re the first girl who’s been through things? Move on jare..” It tore my heart into pieces and probably left a scar as deep as the one Peter had left behind. Was there not one guy who understood? One guy who would defend me? One guy who would love me? God could not but send an angel in the form of Thomas to remind me of the fact that there were still good and decent men out there.
On my 25th birthday I was in Shanghai, living and working. A few minutes to midnight I started praying – as was customary- and broke down crying. I was overly emotional and could hardly contain myself: it was my “10 years’ anniversary”. I know it might sound silly, but it felt as though a flood of memories was overcoming me in a rush. I was not wallowing in self-pity or feeling sorry for myself. I was eternally grateful, “Pinkus don try o. You’ve come a long way.”
The reason I shared all this, was to say the following:
This blog has been a blessing; to me especially. I love sharing me, because I believe it encourages others to (want to) do the same. Over the past weeks (and more so since “Naked and Unashamed”) I’ve been receiving so many emails, from women specifically, who want to talk about their struggles. I find it shocking how not shocked I am about the fact that many of them too have been raped. I find it sad and worrying that I am more surprised at hearing a girl has not ever been sexually abused than that she has. It was not meant to be this way!
I have spoken to so many girls lately, dedicated Christian girls too, who are still struggling with an abuse that happened many years ago, simply because they have not had the chance to speak to someone about it. This September (or actually early October) would make it 11 years for me. Over six years of pain and shame, a few months of “dealing with my issues” and about 4 years of total freedom now.
Just think about how much pain and hurt could have been avoided if I had had the chance to deal with it much earlier. How many girls could have been saved, had there been someone to help them through it. The steps to total freedom are so simple, yet many have not been able to walk through them. I am grateful for the road I walked, knowing He has made it all work together for my good and His glory; but there is work to be done!!
The the abused I say: Learn to love yourself for who you are, and stop hating yourself for who you were! You are fearfully and wonderfully made and God loves you dearly. He does not judge you for any of the things you have done or gone through, but He wants to mould you, show you a more excellent way. A way that leads to total peace and joy, and the ability to love and trust again- even human beings. If you are still struggling with something that has happened in the past, I beg you, find someone intelligent, God-fearing and trustworthy (of the same sex) you can open up to. I tried doing it on my own- it didn’t work. Chances are you’ve been trying too. Why not give yourself one more chance? It is always easier to share a burden than to carry it alone. And to the ones who have been blessed enough to never have been abused, why not give some support rather than harsh judgemental glances?
To the men I say: Please learn to be brothers! I cannot overemphasis the need for men to stand up and take their place! So much pain could be avoided if men only stopped acting like “chewing gum boys” and answered their calling! If men could just stand up to defend the honour of a woman. You would do it for your mother, wouldn’t you?
A girl needs to feel “worthy”. If she does not get that protection or defence from within her home or society, she will continuously go into any community a victim (or simply act-a-man herself). This is not a call for woman to be weak or depend on men (although I am not a feminist), but a call for men to stand up and act like men! You would do it for your mothers, your wives, your daughters.. why not sisters too? Often your omission (the fact that you do nothing) does as much harm as another man’s commission (the fact that he violated her). I hope you do realize it could be your wife, your sister, your daughter tomorrow. Wake up!
Anyway, so the person who called me yesterday (Friday, 13th of July 2011) after almost a decade, was Peter! He did not call to apologize or to ask for forgiveness; not at all. He got my number through a common acquaintance whom he happened to bump into. He called and asked if we could meet up, raised his voice, was rude, and told me to forget about the past, move on, perhaps even give him another chance. Needless to say, I wished him all the best and hung up.
There is not an ounce of resentment in me. I bear him no grudges at all. I am glad my heart’s beating remained the same and my voice did not quiver. I was glad to finally fully see that the forgiveness I have been talking about all these years did not just stem from my mouth, but indeed my heart.
I am glad to tell you that it is possible to get over a very deep pain.. even one that seemed to want to follow you to your grave. I am glad to tell you that you too will be able to one day look at your scars and proudly say,
“Girl, you’ve come a mighty long way!”